Government 'ignoring duty to preschool'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 4:53am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

Hundreds of parents of children who attend a soon-to-close kindergarten in Tin Shui Wai yesterday accused the Education Bureau of dragging its feet in finding new premises for the school.

About 400 parents marched to government headquarters in Admiralty after a rally in Chater Garden.

The organisers, Topkids Parents Concern Group, criticised the government for failing to stop the "commercialisation" of kindergarten education. "The Education Bureau has kept trying to distance itself from the issue, under the excuse that it was a result of market force," the group said in a statement. "It should have looked at the issue from an educational perspective and acknowledged that it was its responsibility to ensure a kindergarten … gets a proper premises."

One father at the march urged the government not to treat preschool education as a commercial activity. "The bureau should intervene to prevent big commercial operators from forcing smaller kindergartens out of business," the man said.

Topkids International Pre-school failed to secure a lease renewal for the premises from landlord Fortune Real Estate Investment Trust, part-owned by tycoon Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong conglomerate. It was outbid by another preschool operator, Zenith International Education Foundation.

Topkids must leave the site by September; its 522 pupils will have to find a new kindergarten for the coming school year if the preschool is unable to find an alternative venue.

Parents have asked the bureau to help the kindergarten find new premises. But under present government policy, early childhood education is often treated as a private-sector responsibility.